Software

Howling In The Night

October ends on Halloween night. Spooky, cold windy nights relinquished to thoughts of witches, ghosts, and monsters. There’s nothing to fear, or so we are told. Are the ancient incantations of old simply a cloudy evolution on our current computer coding? The programs and configurations that run our modern world misunderstood by many who rely on this magic everyday. The disembodied voices from beyond time and space now traveling the world on multiple high speed networks. Of course we have new monsters to loath superimposed against vague shadows cast by massive assemblies of robots spawned by artificial intelligence run amuck. Oooh Scary stuff!

Presumably very little has truly changed over the years beyond the current presentation. Writing code has morphed into the new wizardry which often baffles all who neglect to fully comprehend the full potential augmenting our perceived world. Anything poorly understood or under appreciated is often looked upon as awe inspiring and mysterious.  Programmers assume the role of Alchemists, who pursue processes which convert something of limited value and commonality into gold.

Electricity and ingenuity is the true power behind all this magic. Water, fire, and light, the power behind the electricity. We can trace many of these wonders back to one of the greatest magicians of all time: Tesla. (Alternating current)

Where there is mystery, rumors of good and evil forces take root. On some levels we have too much reliance on things we fail to fully comprehend.

Magic and wonder are all around us if we look deep enough. The lightning that flashes in the sky, and the thunder that shakes the ground….will still make you look up.

It’s the mystery of darkness, not knowing what’s lurking in the night. The creaks and groans from the unseen, the flashes of blue light blinking endlessly in the night.

Then there is the dread that washes over with a shiver as you finally realize all your files were deleted by your latest OS updates…….

……….And they never returned…….ooooooooh haaaa haaaa

Happy Halloween!

Cloud Gaming Streaming Services

Cloud Gaming?

In the past week, both Google and Microsoft have announced there cloud gaming projects. Google announced Project Stream, a game streaming service to play games via Chrome. Microsoft announced Project xCloud,  a cloud platform that will allow gamers to play from anywhere they choose. Which will let gamers use their mobile phones to play. 

Project Stream

Project Stream became available to test on October 5th 2018, with the first game on trial being Assassin’s Creed Odyssey. In order to sign up you must be residing in the US and have a 25 Mbps connection, along with either Windows, Chrome OS, macOS, or Linux for the operating system. 

Common issues Reported from public testing:

– Not getting 60fps
– Minor lag/latency
– Difficult to use touch interface controls, using a controller gives a higher quality experience.
– Unable to adjust graphical settings


Overall

project stream has surpassed a lot of expectations. The real question will be how it holds up to a fps multiplayer game.

Project xCloud

Microsoft is already testing and is expecting to begin public trials in 2019. Currently, the test experience is running at 10 Mbps and using a 4G network. As the introduction of 5G networks continues across the US, they expect will help provide a better quality experience. Project xCloud is expected to work across most phones and tablets. 

Dark Roasted Conspiracy


As the daylight hours grow shorter and darkness becomes the prevailing theme, the temperatures drop and the winds blow cold. It feels like the night never ends. The leaves are falling and swirling down the road. Without the sun’s energy and warmth, a good fire and a hot cup of dark roast coffee help take away the ever-present Autumn chill. Coffee is an ever-persistent habit for me. I like good coffee, and it keeps me going like high octane fuel.

No cream, no sugar, not for me.
I like coffee, just black coffee.

The darker the roast, the better I like it. It’s a basic thing. You can make it more complicated than it has to be, or you can learn to appreciate it’s simplicity. I don’t care what other people put in their coffee, everyone is different. I only worry about my own. Just don’t mess with mine. Sometimes all I need to keep me going is a hot cup of coffee. I have a thermos, it is a luxury I appreciate. I buy coffee I like and rarely buy coffee on the road, although I will order a cup if I stop somewhere for a bite to eat. I usually don’t stop anywhere long enough to eat. If I’m working I usually just go, do the job, and head home. I’ll eat when the work is done.
If I’m working at home, I have my coffee close at hand.

I use the same approach in what tools I use to get a job done, and this includes my choice of operating systems, and applications I use. Unlike choosing your preferred coffee blend, choosing a simple, useful, but stable operating system is not quite so easy.

My perfect setup

 A hot cup of coffee, and a laptop running one operating system with only the applications loaded  needed to get some quality work done.

How hard could that be?

Well, lately it hasn’t been as straightforward as I would like. Right off the bat, Windows 7 or 10 – both favored by large organizations, but remind me of instant coffee with too much nondairy cream and way too much artificial sweetener.
Next, up we have my rarely used MacBook Pro – great for creative inspiration, but not something I want to beat the hell out of on the road. So yes, again I lean on my Linux workhorse laptop as my go-to machine. When I’m working on a project I try to reduce any distractions. I’ll have the radio or a podcast on low in the background. I try to avoid the mainstream news/noise, it’s all goofy. I’ll stick to Linux focused news, usually not too wacky or controversial……Suddenly that illusion is dismissed.

What the heck is going on with all the “Code of Conduct” for developers?

  • Is this going to impact the future of Kernel development?
  • Is Linux’s future now sketchier than ever?
  • With Linus on “Holiday” could we see Microsoft becoming more of an “influence” in the fate of Linux?

Probably not, but there’s a change in the air. I’m not sure what it is, but it has the hint of stale coffee that means we should probably brew a fresh pot.
Now let’s turn off the background noise and get back to some less controversial productive topic.

Where was I? Oh yes, good coffee and the best work laptop setup.
I still have my Chromebook that seems to be working fine…..and fast. It’s great for much of my “non-work” work, but not so great for “work” type work. That probably doesn’t make sense to anyone other than me, but unfortunately, not everyone uses a Chromebook yet, although there’s always hope.
I wouldn’t want to limit anyone’s choices. Let each choose what works best for them. I see a lot of people still struggling with Microsoft’s Windows to do basic things a Chromebook would do with less complexity, and a would usually cost less than the new laptops they are getting frustrated with.
That’s a whole other thing.

Suddenly I just had a thought: should I give up on
Linux? Wait a minute, I thought I would forget about that as soon as I turned the radio/podcast off in the background.
Why is this bugging me now? 

Linux isn’t supposed to be political or controversial

….at least I never think of it that way. It’s just a tool to use for a multitude of tasks. For the moment I really should care less about the “CoC” controversy and more about getting some work done. The last big fuss was about Ubuntu turning into another Microsoft. How soon we forget.

Actually, I have recently started using Debian based Distros again in a feeble attempt to get away from the Ubuntu and Arch-based systems. This was more of a precautionary objective to see if I could still be productive without an Ubuntu or Arch based Distro on an underpowered laptop.
I was using Q4os on an old netbook. Had a great start, but the Trinity desktop soon was replaced by KDE. I do like the KDE approach to desktop design.

I have had a great experience with KDE Neon in the past and may return to it if I can not find a suitable replacement, however, the Q4os KDE desktop was working very nicely for me until it froze while I was trying to change the taskbar settings. Most likely attributed to my older hardware.
That was enough for me to decide to go back to the most reliable Distro I have always been able to depend on (not perfect, but it usually gets the job done)…..Mint. (Boring but stable)

Oh, what a surprise

So I guess I can’t really get away from Ubuntu completely. Apparently, the combination of Debian and Ubuntu heritage works best for my current hardware.

At least I haven’t had to regress/default back to running Windows 10. I still have choices available for what Operating system I use.

Time for another cup of coffee.

If the future of Linux development is in question? Will developers abandon ship? Who knows? (At least it hasn’t yet directly affected my pursuit of the perfect work laptop setup.)

If you prefer to use a Mac, that’s great, if you like to use Windows, that’s great too. If you use Linux, perfect! I work with them all, and there are various things about each system I like, and some I’m not too pleased with. If you drink coffee …..cheers! I don’t drink coffee to make a political statement, nor does my choice of an Operating system have any significance on my political views. Why should it? I’m even aware that not everyone drinks coffee. I hear some people even drink water straight out of the tap. Now that’s a little extreme for sure.

Chromebook Hooked

Too much “Distro-Hopping” looking for the perfect Linux setup can get to be a bore after a while. It sometimes feels like a great time wasting endeavor. I prefer Linux to Windows and OS X because I can usually get a lot of work done without needing a powerful or expensive laptop. I also don’t need all the free built in bloatware or the cost of purchasing all the actual programs I would use. Most Linux distributions have everything I need either rolled up into their base release, or available within their repositories. If your already invested in the Apple ecosystem, staying in that ecosystem usually makes financial sense, and your workflow doesn’t get flipped on it’s head too often. Windows is ingrained in a lot of “work” related use, especially if you work for a company that requires centrally managed devices via their IT department. You may also want a Windows OS available to support software that only works with that operating system. Also remember that there may be licensed applications, security concerns, and more factors that I really don’t need to go into.

I use a Windows OS, OS X, and Linux. I prefer Linux OS, Love the Mac Book Pro hardware, and usually load Linux onto a machine that comes with Microsoft. All these systems have their strengths and weaknesses. I’ve been thinking about simplifying down to only taking one laptop with me when I travel. Whether it’s local travel, or long distance, dragging multiple laptops is not fun. A powerful (expensive) laptop with multiple Operating systems partitioned, Virtual machines, or a low powered dedicated machine seems like a better option. Even these choices have their drawbacks. If I bought a new Mac Book Pro to take on the road, I’d be worried about losing it or having it stolen. I think I’d prefer to leave it at home and take cheap laptop on the road, but then I’m stuck with a less than stellar laptop, that might not have the battery power or speed to get much work done. I have relied on a Linux netbook as my preferred setup, but I’ve recently become interested in Chromebooks.

I can see the need for a powerful laptop computer as the preferred all in one mobile office.

Smartphones have put a big dent into that requirement. I have a nice little keyboard I can use with my iPhone, but sometimes I need a laptop with me as well. There will be times when I will need a Windows, Mac, or Linux machine.   There will be times when all I need to get some work done is my phone. I was thinking I should just stick with the Mac Book Pro, although it’s not the latest hardware. (still a good laptop despite its age) I thought about upgrading to a newer more powerful Mac Book Pro, but why if I can use a Chromebook which is a lot less expensive to serve the same function.

I don’t need a Chromebook with touch screen, or to double as a tablet. I prefer the laptop form. That really lowered the cost, and I was able to pick up a nice little Samsung 3 Chromebook with 4 gigs of ram and 32 Gb hard drive – on sale. It didn’t take long to get up and running. As someone who works with Linux more often than any other operating system, even I was impressed with the startup – almost instant on was even quicker than my Linux laptop. First thought of course was to replace the Chromebook OS with Linux, but after a few days of using the laptop for basic tasks, I decided to stay with the original OS for now. If the option to run Linux apps becomes available for this model, I would be even more reluctant to overwrite the system. I have a nice lite-weight Ideapad running Mint 19 (for now) if I need to bring a Linux laptop with me. The idea is to see how much I can do with the Chromebook alone for a few weeks – or longer.   If all you want a laptop for is basic content creation, then maybe the Chromebook is for you. To blog, it works great. The Samsung has a nice keyboard, feels rugged enough to survive the hazards of the road, and has a good screen. For the price, the Chromebooks make for a nice mobile office alternative. I don’t get the impression that I’m compromising on any level. I do believe that I saved a lot of money purchasing a Chromebook vs upgrading my main mobile laptop choices between a new Windows laptop or Apple device. I could still end up with a different opinion as time goes by. I don’t see myself abandoning Linux or Apple anytime soon.

If you need to work with software programs that require a lot of processing power, a specific operating system, then the Chromebooks might not work for your needs. If you require better than average battery life, budget friendly cost, have Internet access available, and usually work within a browser, than a Chromebook might be a nice alternative.  I find that I’m already rethinking my work habits to accommodate using the Chromebook.

Looking way down the road, I might not be too surprised to find myself purchasing another Chromebook. It’s too soon to actually say, but a lot will be determined by how one adapts to working with this type of system/ecosystem. It will be interesting to see if more people who decide to purchase a new computer rather than a tablet or major OS preinstalled  laptop choose to purchase a Chromebook. For blogging, this is a workable solution for travel. All my work gets backed up, and I don’t worry about losing any work I’ve done if the laptop fails while I’m writing – (everything gets backed up to the cloud).  I can still work offline, but I probably won’t need to very often. The Chromebook was a worthwhile investment that I don’t regret. The more I use it, the more I like it. I’m still learning what I can do with this Chromebook.

Waiting For Darkness

The nights will soon be growing longer as the dog days of summer draw to a close and we slowly ease closer to Fall. Cooler nights, rain, and wind will become the norm. We retreat to the inner sanctum with the radio (podcasts) playing in the background. A hot cup of coffee, a dim light on above the workbench, trusty low powered laptops displaying simple terminals which facilitate exploring the possibilities of learning some new tips and tricks. No GUIs to distract into a mindless point and click wandering.

Cold dark dreary weather is perfect for perusing through some deep technical papers, thick computer books (yes, actual books made of paper and ink), or “help” files often neglected but often associated with our favorite coding language, IDE, or debugging programs. Like Alchemists searching for the great enlightenment where all pseudo-code and real code become one……

Great conclusions to be sought from toiling away the hours exploring the possibilities of perfection from the command line cursor…..

A perfect setting for exploring the new 1.0 release of Julia. You can go back to the announcement “Why We Created Julia” on the julialang.org website and read a quick explanation on why the language was created. I hadn’t considered this language until I read the 1.0 release announcement posted on August 8a 2018. It wasn’t the possibility of the “speed of C” or the “Matlab like notation wandering. it was the possibility of using Julia as a “general programming language”. Sure we’ve got Python for that, but this is new to me, so it’s kind of cool (IMHO) to try something that is newer, yet somewhat familiar to learn about.

I won’t try to do a full description or review of the Julia language, because I haven’t used it enough yet. You can find a lot of useful info on their website, and download a version for your OS and start trying it out yourself. The bottom line is that you can use these dark dreary days and nights to enhance your old skills or learn some new ones. If reading boring technical manuals is your thing, then you’ll probably feel right at home reading every bit of documentation you can for whatever programming language you wish to work a. You can view the videos from “juliacon” on YouTube, there are some interesting ones from 2017 and 2018. There’s a large community, and a few “Julia Bloggers”, along with some very wandering. and specific tutorials, all available via https://julialang.org

So pour yourself a hot cup of coffee, get out of the sun, and enjoy the distant sound of thunder as the rain begins to fall.

..and the wind begins to howl……